Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Sigh. Damn the torpedos.

August 12, 2013

So technically I’m on vacation, but I had to mention this ad because it just seems so… oblivious.

Two things struck me about this ad:

1. How similar in tone and content it is to the Spitzer ad(s).  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

2. Anthony Weiner just doesn’t get it. An ad that ignores what’s happened to him only reinforces the idea that he doesn’t get it, that’s he’s arrrogrant. The subtext of this ad is everything he’s trying to avoid. Instead of confronting his personal issues like Spitzer did in his first ad, Weiner uses the same tone and message, but without similar results.

You can say you get it all you want (which is essentially what Weiner is doing), but if telling people  you get it shows them that you don’t get it, well which story do you think wins?

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Let’s talk Strategy

July 31, 2013

Not much to say about the video per se, but I thought this video was a good MacGuffin to talk about the comptroller race.

There’s been a lot of talk about Spitzer coming back into politics. Most of it centered around the question of could Spitzer overcome his prostitution scandal. Missed in that conversation or maybe forgotten (mostly) is that Spitzer was a pretty awful governor before he resigned. I wonder if the prostitution scandal didn’t actually save Spitzer’s reputation.  Is it easier to rebound from seeing a prostitute or being a horrible governor?

Well, since Scott Stringer thought it was his his civic duty to remind people that Spitzer’s second act is really the same as his first — claiming to be a reformer then letting everyone down).

Strategically this is probably the best way to go, smarter than pounding Spitzer on the prostitution scandal, which could seem less than honroable and everyone already knows about.

Now this is a video rather than an ad, but it makes the point, pretty straightforwardly. I found the quotes powerful and the press conference scene especially good.

This is Stringer’s best shot to take down Spitzer, and to the extend that it starts a conversation that subverts Spitzer’s appeal it will be successful. But, I wonder if people see two Spitzer’s one the arrogant failed governor who failed and the other a gunslinging Attorney General who kept them safe from the predators of Wall Street and their kind.

Is making the race a referendum on Spitzer enough? I’m not sure. I think Spitzer’s story is too strong in voters’ minds. I think Stringer still needs to sell himself, this needs to be a choice for voters.

Take the bull by the horns. Spitzer’s first ad

July 23, 2013

When I talk about confronting the elephant in the room, this is exactly what I mean. I when I said Weiner needed to own his mistakes, to incorporate his fall into the rationale for running again, this is what I mean. This ad grabs you right from the start, and it leads with the most important information in a direct way.

“When you dig yourself a whole you can either lie in the rest of your life or you can do something positive….” That’s a great line. Spitzer appears to be talking to an interviewer, but regardless of whether it was written for him or he came up with it, it’s good copy and it’s well delievered. In fact, this ad reminded me of what I like about Spitzer. As I said to a friend, he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s a son of a bitch who’s on my side. That’s really important in politics, but especially for a position like Comptroller, where,… well let’s face it nobody really knows what they’re supposed to do, but you know it’s about making sure things run the way they’re supposed to.

This ad also does a great job of telling a story. Who’s side is Spitzer on? Yours. Who’s he against? Wall Street, big banks, special interests. I think that works because it doesn’t confuse listing issues or accomplishments with telling a story. The subtext could easily be… Once upon a time there was a guy who went after wall street and took on the powerful interests. They didn’t like him very much. Then he made a mistake… Now, he’s risen from the grave to right that wrong, they still don’t like him very much. Good, fuck ’em.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what he says in that section, but what he says is less important than the sense it conveys. (Frankly, I’m not sure what the lesson here is. Is it just a well delivered line? Is it his conviction or past story that we’re familiar with?)

The spot loses me about 40 seconds in when he starts listing his accomplishments, “When I… blah… blah… blah…” Maybe it’s because it seems more about him than us? Or maybe it’s because it’s a little on the nose, a little too much 4 instead of 2+2.  I’d be alright with ending it with “Everyone deserves a fair shot.” Think the “… even me” not only should have been left unsaid, I think it weakens everything that came before it. Is it about him or us? Is he the fallen hero seeking selfless redemtion slaying demons? (They do a great job of tapping that archetype, btw) Or is he a self-absorbed egomaniac who can’t stand being our of the limelight?

I should also mention the visuals, the close up of the glasses, the empire state building shot, which are really good.

All in all, I think this is a really good spot, that has flaws, but also addresses the biggest hurdle Spitzer would face his own fall from grace.

Beware your friends

April 9, 2013

If you longed for the good old day of negative advertising.

If you’ve said gosh they don’t make ’em like they used to….

Then this negative ad attacking Christine Quinn in the New York Mayor’s race is for you.

Gosh, from the music the effects to the overbearing narrator, this ad felt like it should be running in the 90’s. Negative ads have come a long since then, using more pointed attacks, humor, and just generally not being so overwrought with the negativity. Does the ad have some good points to make, it sure seemed like it. The quotes were all good and tough, but instead of letting the evidence speak for itself, the creators of this ad tried really hard to let you know, these were bad things (as if we couldn’t tell for ourselves).

The problem is that there’s no room for the viewer in an ad like this. They’re telling instead of showing, they’re making statements instead of asking the question. It’s a classic blunder, the first of which is never get in a land war in SE Asia, and the second is never go up against a Scillian with death on the line.

The ultimate question then is this: Does this ad help or hurt? How could it hurt? As an outside group, coming in attacking the only woman in the race, does it seem too mean spirited? Are they injecting important information into the race or are they beating up on Quinn? Again, I don’t question the validaty of their attack, just the tone. The ad is tone deaf. Better to give the quotes straight then ask the question. (Shaking my head).It’s clear the people making it hated Quinn, but it’s too clear, it seems personal, like they want New Yorkers to hate Quinn as much as they do.

To the extent that this ad sticks and the information gets through it’ll be effective. To the extend that it is seen as too negative or just plain mean spirited, it’ll backfire.

 

The King is dead…, Long Live the King.

November 6, 2009

Well the 2009 elections are over, and while I only focused a little of my attention on those ads, the passing of election day marks a low tide mark in the off-year.  I’ll continue to post at least once a week, more if I see things of interest that I want to pass along.

Still, with 2009 in the rear view mirror, the 2010 elections are now in our sights along with the health care fight, and the probably climate bill coming up at the end of the year, so there will be political ads out there to discuss.

Take for example this ad from embattled Governor of New York, David Patterson:

Patterson also has another ad running. What I like about both ads is that they don’t pussyfoot around with Patterson’s situation. He’s made mistakes, he’s been heavily criticized, he’s unpopular right now — you can ignore those problems, try to dance around them with your advertising or face them, head on.  I prefer the later approach, which is why I like these ads.

First of all in this ad, “Some Say,” I find Patterson appealing, surprisingly quietly confident and well spoken.  Maybe he conveys these qualities all the time, but in my limited expose to him, I’ve never thought of him as such, more of a walking train wreck.  I appreciate how he tries to turn his negative (people say he shouldn’t run for governor) into a strength — strength of character, strength of leadership.

In that way, it reminds of me of the Inhofe spot I posted about, “One man in America.”

Secondly, it seems honest.  He’s not defensive or aggressively pushing back, just talking to voters calmly, humbly, but also with a strength that’s appealing.

The visual style reinforces this message, not too flashy, simple clean, not too flashy.  There’s a subtle push in to him at the end, it brings the viewer closer to the subject.  Underscoring the tone of the spot, it doesn’t draw attention to itself, but it’s effective in reinforcing the emotional subtext of the spot: Patterson’s not flashy, he’s about the people, he’s appealing, he’s not trying to fool you but speaking plainly and honestly.

I wonder if Patterson’ blindness is a benefit in this situation.  He can’t read the spot off a prompter like most politicians would be forced to do.  He’s had to memorize it (so it seems), and I think because of that fact, he delivers the lines instead of repeats or reads them.  I’ll be interested to see if he can continue to deliver lines like this in future ads, but it’s obvious I was impressed with his performance (and make no mistake, any time a politician is talking into the camera it’s a performance, to quote Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts…”)

The second spot is a narrator driven bio, but echoes the same themes, he’s made mistakes, he’s put the people first, strength of character, leadership.

With the echoes of Corzine’s loss in the Jersey governor’s race, I can’t help but wonder if he could have turned things around if he had taken a similar approach.  It’s bold to put a candidate with a negative approval rating in the front of your spot.  Think about those Dodd spots from this summer. The Senator barely appears in them.

I think the Dodd/Corzine approach adds to the siege mentality, it’s a losing frame of mind, a defensive approach, that tries to ignore the elephant in the room rather than make the elephant a positive (who wouldn’t want an elephant to clean up all the peanuts) or at least admit what everyone else knows (there’s an elephant here, I know I brought it into this room, and I’m going to do everything I can to get it out — anyone have a mouse).

Politics like sports can’t be played not to lose, you always have to play to win.  You never worry about how many outs you need, only how many you have.  Don’t worry about your negatives, worry how to turn those negatives into positives.

Patterson is obviously playing to win here. And while he has hurdles to overcome — bad economy, a potential popular primary opponent (Cuomo), a tough economy and dysfunctional legislature, he’s off to a good start with these ads.

If I was giving this ad a grade it would probably be a B+/A-.  A solid A for messaging (form) and a B for function, it’s not innovative, but its professional and effective.


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